Gates of the West & Dark Horse Records present ‘A Song For Joe: Celebrating the Birthday of Joe Strummer’ on Friday, August 21 at 8pm BST / 3pm EDT / 12pm PDT.
Taking place on Joe’s birthday, the event will honor Joe’s legacy and feature performances and testimonials by many of the former Clash front man’s friends and notable names in the music & arts community, as well as never-before-seen Joe Strummer live footage.
“To see so many musicians and artists come forward to honor Joe is really touching,” says Joe’s wife Lucinda Tait. “Community was always important to him. Whether it was playing music with friends, organizing all night campfires, or hijacking festivals, Joe was always focused on bringing people together. Even though we can’t all be in the same room together, I cannot think of a better way for us all to feel united. Joe would have loved this.”
Joe Strummer (never before seen live footage), Albert Hammond Jr. (The Strokes), Beto O’Rourke, Bob Gruen,Bob Weir, Brian Fallon, Bruce Springsteen, Butch Walker, Cait O’Riordan (The Pogues), C.C. Adcock, Cherry Glazerr, Craig Finn & Tad Kubler (The Hold Steady), Dave Hause, Dhani Harrison, DJ Scratchy, Dropkick Murphys,
Eugene Hütz (Gogol Bordello), Frank Turner, HR (Bad Brains), Hinds, The Interrupters, Jesse Dayton, Jesse Malin,
Jim Jarmusch, Joe Ely, Josh Cheuse, Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Lucinda Williams, Lyza Jane, Matt Dillon, Nikolai Fraiture (The Strokes), Ray Gange (Rude Boy), Richard Dudanski (101ers), Sara Driver, Shepard Fairey, Spider Stacy (The Pogues), Steve Buscemi, Tom Morello , + very special guests
This free event will benefit Save Our Stages, which is being spearheaded by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) to preserve and protect the USA’s independent live music venues and promoters.
Save Our Stages
The mission of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) is to preserve and nurture the ecosystem of independent live music venues and promoters throughout the United States. NIVA is making a final push to Congress to pass the Save Our Stages Act and the Restart Act in order to keep independent venues nationwide from closing permanently. Take action here.
Gates of the West
Jesse Malin & Jeff Raspe created Love It To Life and the Gates Of The West shows to bring together some of the best musicians and celebrate the music of Joe Strummer and The Clash. Every show is a benefit for The Joe Strummer Foundation, Music & Memory and other charities. The six sold-out shows to date, have featured many special guests performing songs written and performed by Strummer and The Clash.
‘Backstabbers’ and the B-side ’Crawling Back to You’ (Tom Petty) were released digitally and as a limited 7” on Little Steven’s Wicked Cool Records.
‘Backstabbers’ is the first song from Jesse’s upcoming new album ‘Lust for Love’, planned for early 2021. Recorded during the ’Sunset’ Kids’ session, the song is produced by Lucinda Williams and Tom Overby. Of the song Malin says: “the story is pretty much coming of age, getting out of your small town, and coming into the city searching for something new.”
’The Fine Art of Self Distancing’ on Youtube every Saturday. Rolling Stone called it the best-streamed performance of the stay – at – home era. – Please take a look Here and when you have the time – check out his previous efforts. Rolling Stone just happens to be right here folks.
New York’s finest troubadour Jesse Malin has been on the road touring his critically acclaimed new album ‘Sunset Kids’ since last summer. We caught up with him on his UK tour last month prior to a sold out show in Leeds to discuss punk rock beginnings, songwriting influences and hanging about in Dublin with Johnny Depp and Bono.
This interview was conducted on March 4th, prior to lockdown. At the time, Jesse had two more tours to the UK pencilled in for 2020. While we hope those will be rescheduled at some time in the future, for now this could be the last tour related interview you read for some time. Enjoy.
RPM: Hey there Jesse, welcome back to Leeds. Your new album ‘Sunset Kids’ came out late last year, and it’s your 8th solo album I believe?
Jesse: I guess around that yeah, if you don’t count the live and the covers record, so yeah something like that.
RPM: And you collaborated with Lucinda Williams on this album?
Jesse: Yeah, she produced it along with her husband Tom Overby and we made it in California and New York. We’ve been friends for a long time and it turned out to be a great experience making a record with her. I had an instinct that she would have a great feel in the studio and she’s great with storytelling and just being a friend. But also, being a fan made me wanna, you know, step up my game. I think the band I have came through and we just had a really great time making the record. It was one of those records where we recorded 20 plus songs and narrowed it down to 14, which is still a lot, but you know I’m real proud of this one
RPM: Yeah, there is just something about this album; it seems to be the right album at the right time. There was a lot of personal tragedies leading up to and during the recording of ‘Sunset Kids’. Can you elaborate?
Jesse: Yeah, it was a heavy time of death and loss. Life is for the living and I don’t wanna be all bummed out, you know, “woe is me”. But yeah, one of the engineers who started the record with us; David Bianco, who did Tom Petty’s ‘Wild Flowers’ and Bob Dylan and Frank Black. But he also did D Generation my first band, so there’s history there, He had a stroke in the middle of the record, and then my Dad passed away right before we finished. Also, Todd Youth, who played with me in D Generation and St Mark’s Social. Inside the album we dedicate the record to those people we lost. So it was one of those crazy runs when all this was happening, but despite all that, going through heavy times, the best thing to do is play music and be around people you love. We started the record around Christmas time, we were in the studio in LA, no snow or cold, it was kinda surreal. But me and Lucinda kinda got the holiday blues, so we had the mindset to work through that.
RPM: I think tragedy and tough times brings out the best in a songwriter, wouldn’t you agree?
JM: Yeah, well we went out to see her (Lucinda) open for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers in L.A., which turned out to be his last gig. We didn’t know it was going to be his last gig, nobody did. And we met with her the next night over dinner and said we wanted to do this album and she and her husband seemed to be into it. We started to make plans, but a week later it was the Vegas shooting and the same day Tom Petty died, so everything ground to a halt.
I mean, I didn’t know him, but witnessing that show really impacted on some of the writing on songs like ‘Shining Down’. So we started working on it in December when we could meet in-between her touring schedule and my touring schedule. We would sit around in her kitchen and I would show her lyrics or they would come to me and sit in my apartment. And every time we would go away from each other something else would happen and I’d write a few more songs. Like I went to Shane MacGowan’s 60th birthday to sing, and I came back and wrote a song (‘Shane’) about how weird it was to be the strange guy standing next to Johnny Depp and Bono and Nick Cave, and being in this country pub for like 3 days.
RPM: Going back to songwriting, I read you take yourself away to hotel rooms to write in isolation, is that a regular thing?
Jesse: Well, I was living in L.A. for a little bit and I’m not a big L.A. guy. But it was a nice change this time and it felt good, we were staying right near Sunset Boulevard actually. But I like to be in places that are not my usual place to write, not where you might do your usual routine in your apartment. So you kinda have a place that’s a blank canvas, a transient place. You get a lot of those on the road because every night we are somewhere different. We’ve been touring this record a lot. Since August we’ve been on the road non-stop.
RPM: And the reception has been good on the road?
Jesse: Things have been growing. These aren’t the biggest rooms, but most are sold out. In the States this record seems to connect more. Sometimes I’m bigger in the UK or Europe than America, but this record had a lot of support from some magazines and press, and people seem to know the words more. I notice that in the crowd every night, that’s always a funny thing. You write a song in your little room somewhere and people sing the words in other places. The songs take on another life when you take then in front of a crowd. It’s one thing to say something privately, but then say it in public, you kinda see if it rings true or if you’re full of shit or not.
RPM: A lot of our readers will know you from your days fronting D Generation. Do people in the audience still shout for you to play those old songs?
Jesse: In certain areas, yes. Some places they don’t know that band and others there will be guys with dark black hair and leather jackets yelling out for a D Generation song. You know, D Generation is something I am not ashamed of. I’m proud of those records and I loved working with those guys, you know… we were a gang. But I’ve been doing this for so much longer than I did that. I’ve had this band, these cats, for a bunch of years now.
RPM: It seems a lot of punk artists go down the singer/songwriter or Americana route. Do you think there a connection between the two?
Jesse: I think there is a connection. It’s the same 3 chords, a message, sad lyrics and a lot of fuckin’ attitude. It might just be louder through a Marshall amp with a punk band. But with an acoustic guitar, there is this thing. Its street music, its folk music…Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams… You know, I think they were all pretty punk rock. As well as Neil Young, who I think is a great bridge to that, as well as Joe Strummer, even The Clash had this folky edge to it. But for me personally, I always liked songs that painted pictures, told stories. Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska’ was always a great influence on me wanting to play solo and Billy Bragg’s records, as well as Elvis Costello. It’s great to hear Frank Turner, Brian Fallon, Chuck Ragan, all these great people who have a great punk spirit but also have a great craft.
RPM: Ok Jesse. Now we get to the fun part of the interview we like to call the ‘Rock Star’ questions where we get our subject to challenge themselves and think outside the box.
When people think of Jesse Malin, what do they associate you as being?
Jesse: What do they think I am? Well, that’s hard for me to say. I’m just gonna repeat a lot of bullshit that people say about me. A singer/songwriter, or a Troubadour. A Rabbi Rasta, jack-off, goofball, vegan-nut New Yorker. A positive mental analyst!
RPM: Is that what you get shouted at you then?
Jesse: Um, yeah! “What’s the name of your band”, “who are you?”, “what does Jesse Malin mean?”, “where you going”?,”what’s the future of the planet?”.
RPM: what’s your morning routine?
Jesse: I wake up, I drink a herbal tea. I jump out of bed like anything could happen. You never know what’s going to happen in life. I do a bunch of push-ups. I keep the gadgets and devices off for a while, put on a little music. Sometimes I write, as coming out of a dream state is a good place to write. I’ll write in notebooks with an old fashioned pen and some real paper. Then I turn on the computer and wait to be slapped by the world.
RPM: What was your first guitar and what did you learn to play on it?
Jesse: It was an acoustic guitar, one of those nylon string $20 jobs. I sat around and tried to learn how to play ‘Jingle Bells’ on it. But then I got aggressive and I took a microphone from a reel to reel player and I taped it on there and I tried to play Kiss songs, Ted Nugent songs and Led Zeppelin songs. I wasn’t so great at it so I started to write my own songs instead, and just play Ramones songs because right away that was instant gratification.
RPM: You knew Joey, right?
Jesse: Yeah, D Generation toured with The Ramones. Me and Joey became friends, he was just a lovely person that just loved rock music.
RPM: If you could go back to your 20 year old self, what 3 pieces of advice would you give?
Jesse: To stay on the road longer, to be fearless, more loving and compassionate, and to not give up.
RPM: And would you have listened though?
Jesse: To half of it…the other half I would’ve pissed out into the toilet or something!
RPM: When you hear the word successful what comes to mind?
Jesse: Happiness, having enough money to be able to have the freedom to live. To have good love in your life and to be happy with what you do every single day.
RPM: Have you ever written a song, only to realise it had already been written?
Jesse: I’ve had melodies that have been familiar to other things or lines here and there, but never full songs. I’ve come close though, I remember somebody in the band, I think it was a wisecrack from the drummer saying “that sounded like that song by Oasis” and I’d be like “No, Oasis took it from there” and I guess…well Martin Scorsese said “good ones copy, great ones steal!”. It’s how you steal it and what you do with it that counts.
RPM: Ok, and to wrap up Jesse. If you could have a billboard anywhere in the world where would you have it and what would it say?
Jesse: Oh man…somewhere in the Middle East I guess. Saying ‘peace and love – stop the fighting. We are all flesh and blood, we all bleed the same… just peace’.
Jesse Malin is currently holding a YouTube residency every Saturday evening at 9pm UK time entitled ‘The Fine Art of Self-Distancing’, playing songs and telling stories from his apartment in New York. It’s free to watch but donations to help the band and his crew are more than welcome. Tune in, grab a beer, tell your friends. And join in the new normal for live music experience right now.
SINGLE: ‘SHANE’ OUT NOW
PRODUCED BY LUCINDA WILLIAMS & TOM OVERBY
THE FINE ART OF SELF DISTANCING
SATURDAY’S 9PM UK TIME Here
TOUR DATES SUPPORTING BRIAN FALLON RESCHEDULED
JANUARY- FEBRUARY 2021
Jesse wrote ‘Shane’ after celebrating his hero Shane MaGowan’s 60th birthday at the Dublin National Concert Hall (alongside Ireland’s president Michael D. Higgins, Bono, Nick Cave, Sinead O’Connor…). “I thanked him for everything; the songs, the stories, the inspiration. I told him that he better not to go anywhere, that we still need him.”
‘Shane’ is taken off the album ‘Sunset Kids’– which marks Malin’s first new LP since 2015’s OUTSIDERS – further includes the remarkable Malin/Williams duet, “Dead On,” along with guest appearances from Joseph Arthur on three tracks and newly arranged versions of songs from his classic 2010 LP with the St. Marks Social, LOVE IT TO LIFE. Additional highlights include “Strangers and Thieves” cowritten by and featuring vocals from Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong.
The album was produced by GRAMMY® Award-winner Lucinda Williams and engineered by the late David Bianco (Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, AC/DC) and Geoff Sanoff (Little Steven and The Disciples of Soul, Fountains of Wayne)
In the recent climate of the coronavirus pandemic, Jesse has decided to do a Saturday Livestream series called The Fine Art of Self Distancing where he will be playing songs, telling stories and doing bits and motivational backflips.
“It’s free, but with an option for donations that will help band, the road crew and I get through this crazy
time of tour cancellations and postponements. Look at what the Italians are doing. Sing from your window, your fire escape, your balcony, or your roof. Even from afar, the power of love is stronger than you think. Use this time to reflect on what really matters most. A slower tempo can help you feel the real deal inside. Be brave, open, and stay smart. Keep a positive mental attitude and we will back together before you know it.
The tour dates with Jesse supporting The Gaslight Anthem’s frontman Brian Fallon have now been rescheduled for
29 Jan Manchester, 02 Academy
30 Jan Birmingham , 02 Institute
31 Jan Glasgow SWG3
1 Feb Leeds 02 Academy
3 Feb Bristol 02 Academy
5 Feb Nottingham Rock City
6 Feb London Shepard Bush Empire
7 Feb Norwich Waterfront
Jesse Malin’s transition from snotty frontman for NY punks D Generation to acoustic troubadour has been a natural progression over the last 15 years. The long and winding road has seen him release 7 solo albums, collaborating with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Ryan Adams and Brian Fallon along the way.
Critically praised, yet commercially ignored (hey, aren’t all the best songwriters? Ginger,Tyla and Butch Walker, here’s looking at you!). His live shows, whether solo or with a band, can be an immersive experience full of storytelling, comedy and crowd interaction. Jesse Malin continues to tell tales of dreamers, schemers, hustlers and dealers. These are his songs about the characters from his native New York and stories about those he meets on the road.
Jesse’s latest album ‘Sunset Kids’ is a collaboration with country legend Lucinda Williams, who Malin met by chance in a club. They discussed making an album together after she invited him to Tom Petty’s final concert. During the writing and recording Jesse lost his father, his good friend Todd Youth and even the engineer of the album Davis Bianco.
Opener ‘Meet Me At The End Of The World Again’ is a re-recording of the lead track from 2017’s ‘Meet Me At The End Of The World’ EP. This version benefits from Lucinda’s lush production and masterful guidance. The verse, sung in Jesse’s lower register with the addition of warm bass and a tinkling of the ivories, comes on like prime Lou Reed. It lends itself well as a great build to the infectious chorus full of lush, gang vocals. It’s a laid back, lazy sounding slice of retro rock ‘n’ roll, the kind that only a New York resident could produce. This is Jesse walking on the wildside and that’s about as rock ‘n’ roll as you can get.
Next up, the countrified ‘Room 13’ is a reflective ode to spending time in hotel rooms (Jesse has been known to book himself into hotels to write songs in isolation, with no distractions). This is prime Malin songwriting, featuring Lucinda’s lush vocal harmonies and twangy countrified guitars, the sparse instrumentation creates space and atmosphere that only adds to the laid back, signature melodies Jesse creates.
There’s a nice ebb and flow to the album, from the upbeat to the downbeat. Reflective, acoustic laments like ‘When You’re Young’ and ‘Revelations’ rub (leather) shoulders with funky 70’s groovers such as ‘Do You Really Wanna Know’ and the overly cool ‘Dead On’, 2 tunes that deserve to be jammed out by cool cats in smoky bars, while whores hustle and hustlers whore around them.
The upbeat ‘Chemical Heart’ has the same feel as his version of The Hold Steady’s ‘You Can Make Them Like You’ from the excellent ‘On Your Sleeve’ covers album. Nice stabs of Hammond give this song a quirky burst of energy. It’s one of the coolest on offer, along with ‘Strangers and Thieves’, co-written by Billy Joe Armstrong as part of their Rodeo Queens side project. A euphoric, countrified rock ‘n’ roll blast if ever there was one. Lucinda’s lush backing vocals add depth, great percussion and twangy guitars give a Stonesy ‘All Down The Line’ feel. A much needed dose of urgency.
Jesse’s tales of working class guys, lost love and dreaming of breaking out of the rat race have been popular themes with the guy since D Generation burst onto MTV with ‘No Way Out’, and although the production may have changed, the message is still the same. As he suggests in ‘Shining On’, you gotta keep on, keeping on. “Call me a cab for the last plane to tomorrow” he asks on ‘Promises’ and ‘Grey Skies Look So Blue’ floats along on a summer breeze as Jesse dreams about packing his bags and getting away.
When an artist goes through tumultuous times, when a songwriter experiences heartache or pain, and truly has something to write about, THAT is when they are at their best. Like much of Jesse’s solo work, ‘Sunset Kids’ is a reflective body of work, full of heartfelt tenderness and cool rock ‘n’ roll, but for whatever reason it resonates so much more than his past albums. And with the help of Lucinda Williams, he may well have made the album of his career.